As Union General Ulysses S Grant began his 1864 spring campaign, he ordered Brigadier General George Crook who commanded the Union Army of West Virginia to march through the Appalachian Mountain into southwestern Virginia. Crook was to work along with Union General William W Averell to destroy the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad. The Confederate force in the area was commanded by General Albert G Jenkins. Jenkins had only been in command for a few days when the battle broke out.
Jenkins found a strong defensive position at Cloyd’s Mountain in Pulaski County, Virginia and decided to hold the line. Crook quickly decided that the Confederate position was too strong for a frontal assault, but he could use a heavily forested area to the Confederate right to out flank them. On May 9th 1864 Crook opened the battle with an artillery barrage. He sent out new West Virginia troops to the Confederate right, while troops under future president Colonel Rutherford B Hayes made a frontal assault. Crook advanced on foot with Hayes’ men up the steep slope. By 11am they had fought their way into the Confederate lines where the fight became hand to hand. The West Virginian’s advanced beyond some Confederate cannon over running their crew. Two new regiments of Ohio men moved in where Hayes’ men were and overwhelmed the Confederate center. Jenkins shifted his troops skillfully, but was mortally wounded and taken prisoner by some Union soldiers.
After Jenkins was wounded, Brigadier General John McCausland took over command of the Confederate troops. He conducted a rear guard fight as he withdrew the remaining troops. Crook reported 688 casualties, while the Confederate lost 538 men. Crook would continue to move forward and destroy the Virginia & Tennessee Railroad at Dublin, Virginia.
If you would like to read more check Cloyds Mountain Campaign